Happy holidays! Shopping tips from the Federal Trade Commission

The gift-giving season is just around the corner, and the gift-buying season starts, oh, any minute now. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an early gift for you — tips to help you shop wisely and protect your personal information.

  • Make a list and budget. Remember incidentals, like cards and wrapping paper.
  • Check out Web sites that compare prices for things sold online, and at stores in your area. It can help you get the best deal.
  • Make sure the scanned price is right. Overcharges cost you money and time, especially if you don’t notice them right away.
  • Look for rebates. Some can be redeemed at checkout, but most require you to send documentation to the manufacturer to get your rebate.
  • Read reviews and recommendations to see how the product performs — or people’s experience with an online seller. But remember to consider the source.
  • Be aware that shopping apps can collect a lot of personal information. Look for apps that tell you what they do with your data, and how they keep it secure.
  • Check the terms of the deal when buying online — including delivery dates and refund policies. Will it arrive in time? And, if it’s not what you thought, can you send it back?
  • Save receipts. When you’re shopping online, keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties.
  • Giving bling? Take some time to learn the terms used in the jewelry industry so you can get the best quality and value.
  • Shipping to loved ones overseas? Check the US Postal Service’s calendar for holiday shipping deadlines.
  • Have packages delivered to a secure location. If you won’t be home, have them delivered to work, or see if a neighbor can be on the look-out for deliveries. Consider requiring a signature for delivery — or look for options to pick up your shipment at a local store or mailing center.

For more information, check out our Shopping & Saving page.